This past week we were able to take a few days and camp at Calaveras Big Trees. As any of you know that have had the privilege of visiting this park, it is a wonderful experience. While we were there we saw the bounty of God’s creation: white headed woodpeckers, Canadian geese, and of course the beautiful trees. We saw various types of pine trees, blooming dogwood, yew cedar, and of course the enormous Sequoiadendron giganteum, better known as the giant redwood. To witness these awesome trees and not acknowledge the seeds, for they came from the mind of God, is beyond my comprehension. Their structure, longevity, and gigantic size boggle the senses. While many facts about these giants are amazing, one fact in particular captured my attention. Instead of the bark growing in a vertical direction, many of the oldest sequoias have a noticeable twisting growth pattern in their bark. Our guidebook stated that, “Trees with spiral growth are more flexible, and therefore better able to withstand wind stress and snow loading.” The twisting seems to be caused in part by strong battering winds and the trees constantly reaching for sunlight. In other words, if the tree withstands adverse conditions, it ultimately will cause the tree to be stronger.
This caused me to think of challenges, persecution, and hard times that come in the lives of Christians. These battering episodes in our lives can at times seem like more than we are able to bear. But James tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) So, when trying conditions come in our lives, maybe God is using it to strengthen us and prepare us for a long life of service in His kingdom. Maybe we should take a lesson from Sequoiadendron giganteum.